Friday, November 9, 2012

White Bean & Chicken Breast Chili – A Change of Pace, Change of Pace

I love a hearty beef chili as much as the next guy, but once in a while there’s nothing wrong with going over to the light side, and enjoying an equally comforting bowl of white bean and chicken chili. I’ve always used thighs for my chicken chili, which of course have more fat and flavor, but after a bunch of requests for a chicken breast version, I decided give it a go, and I was very happy with the results.

The key is to not overcook the chicken when you sear it. You want it slightly undercooked, maybe about 150 degrees F. internal temp, since it will cook all the way when we add it back in. You’ll notice when I slice mine, there’s a little bit of opaqueness to the flesh, which is what you want.

This is intended to be a relatively quick and simple weeknight meal, so I didn’t add much in the way of extras, but things like peppers, squash, and mushrooms are always welcomed additions. 

I know you’re probably missing those long, warm summer days right about now, but one of the great things about this season’s cold, wet weather is that it begs for recipes like this. I hope you pour yourself a beer, grab a chunk of bread, and dig into a bowl of this soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 or 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/4 lbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp flour
about 3 cups chicken broth or stock, divided
1 tsp fine cornmeal
2 cans (15oz) white beans
cayenne to taste
1/4 tsp sugar or to taste
1/3 cup chopped green onions
sour cream and cilantro to garnish

View the complete recipe


Unknown said...

you forgot the beans.

Food Junkie said...

This sounds very good. I really like chipotles in adobo sauce in chili for bolder flavour kick than the powder.

BTW The beans got missed in your ingredients list.

Chef John said...


Chris K. said...

I may not roll
Like a Big Willy
But all the young fillies
Get mad silly
When they eat a bowl
Of my chicken chili!

Zeevik said...

Well - what can I say...?
As always, so simple, so clear, so...
Chef John, you are my number 1!
Well done - from ISRAEL

Daniel Bottoms said...

this was spectacular! I had NO idea what to cook for lunch today and my wife and I were totally exhausted from the night, as our 10 month old baby cried every two hours!!! I saw this and said BINGO! My wife only got small breasts (no jokes plz!) so she grabbed a few chicken quarters, which i skinned and de-boned myself. a bit of work, but i used the scraps to make a bit of stock, some of which came into the chili.

I can not confirm, nor deny that i added a bit of bacon to the sweating onions and i used flat-leaf parsley instead of cilantro (couldn't get any at the market). Even my picky 7 year old daughter enjoyed this.

btw i added a stalk of celery as i had it from earlier in the week and needed to be used. totally worked.

cheers from Austria,

dana said...

Looks good. I make my chicken chili with white and black beans, just for the color contrast. Or white and red. A great meal any way you do it.

And try it as a burrito stuffing, for a hearty change on a cold day.

Lisette said...

It was really good! Used carrots and celery with the onion and added extra vegetables, but this is a really tasty use of chicken breasts!

Lisette, the Netherlands

Tom Houy said...

Great recipe, most chicken chili recipes I've tried in the past were kind of bland. The flavors were good, but this is pretty spicy, so you may want to go easy on the chipotle and cayenne at first. I was out of corn meal, but I did have some masa harina on hand, so I used that. A little goes a long way with that stuff as well, the flavor is pretty noticeable. Next time I will probably make this with a rotisserie chicken.

raj said...

yes chicken breast recipes are the best one's for dinner all is due to its flexibilty and softness

Unknown said...

Just cooked this recipe, using red beans and black mung beans (I live in India). Great flavor from the chicken breast, just as you said. Totally tasty, and that's coming from me, a boneless white meat hater.

Unknown said...

Would chicken thighs work as well as the breasts here? That's all I have at the moment but if they're too fatty I can run back to the grocery store. Also, I only have a generic "chili powder" blend... is that okay, or would you recommend going back and finding ancho and chipotle chili powders?

Love your recipes. Your commentary makes me giggle. :)

Chef John said...

Works with thighs! Chili powder is alright, but those other will give you more flavor.

Unknown said...



dear god.

MtnGirl525 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MtnGirl525 said...

Hi Chef John,
I'm going to try this with the pheasant my bf brought back from the family hunting trip. But I always seem to have problems with pheasant drying out. Any suggestions for keeping my bird juicy?

Chef John said...

Sorry, but not much you can do, as they are just super lean! No fat = dry. You can cook until they fall apart, but then its chalky.

RavynKlaine said...

Hey, so I came across your videos on Youtube maybe half an hour ago while searching for random recipes and I love a good chicken chili. I am really sensitive to spice and I'm new to the kitchen. Do you know of any tasty alternatives to the cayenne and chipotle seasoning that won't diminish or alter the flavor of the chili?


Chef John said...

Try less spicy chili powders like paprika or Ancho!

Martin said...

Hi Chef John
I have made this recipe before and it was really good. Now I would like to make it for around 12 people. Could you come with a few do's and don'ts in connection with this?
I hope you have time to answer my question.
All the best

Chef John said...

Just triple the recipes!

Alicia said...

Hi Chef John,
This is the first of your recipes that I've tried and it was incredible! I went by the book this first time except for I will admit a dash of cayenne. Oh my goodness! Delicious. Served it up with toppings of choice, diced jalapeno, green onions, cilantro and crackers. Definitely adding this to my list of favorite recipes!

Unknown said...

Made this with minor alterations. It was delicious, thank you Chef John.

Left out the sugar, mine wasn't too acidic. Left out the flour and just relied on smashing beans for thickness. Used smoked paprika in lieu of chipotle. Added a couple diced poblanos. And last but not least, used thighs per the Chef's subtle recommendation.

rotunder said...

This is a winner Chef! Loved it! I had to use paprika instead of the chipotle cause in my country we just have 1 type of chilli powder, still was awesome though :) Will be a winter staple for years to come

Jana Meehan said...

CJ, thanks, as always for your great recipes. It may be, though, that some people need their chicken to always be white meat because an enzyme in dark meat can stress the kidneys of folks with diabetes or other risks to kidney health.I'm making this chili today, but I could not find ancho chili at the store, so I'm using alepo instead. Think it'll be okay?